Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Scandinavia 2017 - Gamla Stan

The waterbus drops us at Gamla Stan, the oldest section of Stockholm. It's a place of tiny, winding, centuries old, cobblestone streets and narrow alleys. 17th century buildings are the norm, some are even older. We strolled through the plazas surrounding the Royal Palace. We went inside and visited the quiet chapel. It is soothing, a beautiful and inspiring place for those of faith to worship. We photographed, as did others, the Palace Guards in their bright blue uniforms, doing their jobs, occasionally goosestepping across the plaza, perhaps to relieve the boredom of standing in a guard tower staring straight ahead for hours, resembling the toy soldier Christmas ornaments I hang on my tree each year. Later we see several of them struggling with a cart piled high with the bright blue coats, apparently just returned from the Royal cleaners.

Church bells toll as we eat lunch at a table outside an iconic Stockholm building. We saw the narrow, bright pink structure over and over in photos of the city before our trip. It sits on one side of the plaza where the Nobel Prize Museum is found. A treacherous, minuscule, winding stairway leads down to a basement dining area and the single tiny restroom. A cute, young, hipster boy, dressed all in black, goes by walking a dog. A lovely girl in a beret and stunning floral embroidered coat strolls past us into the restaurant. Two dowagers, looking as if they hail from Chicago's snotty northern suburbs emerge from the Nobel Museum. One wore a ridiculous,massive brown hat, flowing cloak and tennis shoes. The make up of her companion preceded her into the square, her drawn on eyebrows and impossibly large, impossibly red lips as ludicrous as her skin tight vinyl pants. We saw her drinking a short time later, even though it was only 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Perhaps she was trying to dull the residual pain in her hands from the considerable effort it must take to apply her cosmetics every morning.

We returned to the plaza later after exploring the ancient streets lined with galleries and ubiquitous tacky souvenir shops. One window glows gold with amber jewelry. In an antique shop, filled with an eclectic assortment of trash and treasure, we purchase a plate, to join the collection of others on our kitchen walls, of a boy staring down a goose. We take time to sit on one of the benches. Two small children drink from the rusty pipes of a fountain before attempting to climb it. A pair of twenty something boys stand chest to chest, their phones held in opposite outstretched arms, taking a double selfie.

Alas jet lag was beginning to overtake us. We stopped at a small bakery to purchase croissants and sweets to create a dinner in our hotel room that night and cross a bridge taking us to the waterbus dock. The squeals of the chilly riders of the amusement park attractions sounded across the water as returned to the hotel dock..

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